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Sex Addiction Signs And Treatment

Experts are still debating if sex addiction or those who have sex out of compulsion is a proper diagnosis for a mental health disorder. If someone is searching for sex addiction treatment, this information could be helpful. For example, for someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there may be an increase in hypersexuality during a manic period. As a note, hypersexuality differs from someone who has a high libido, but has control over their sexual urges. 

As researchers continue to gather data, the concern of professionals about adding this addiction to the DSM-5 is a caution to label an excessive sexual activity as a disease or disorder. Research on the cause of sex addiction is still under investigation. Some believe brain chemistry could be a significant factor with hypersexuality, or compulsive sexual behavior.

For this reason, professionals proceed with sex addiction treatment which involves medications, psychotherapy, and self-help support groups. Just as in mental health disorders, sexual encounters release dopamine, which generates feelings of happiness or contentment. Consequently, this reward system form of addiction is similar to a gambling addiction, or shopping addiction. 

What is Sex Addiction?

Not an exact diagnosis, but sex addiction or hypersexuality is a compulsive behavioral problem, including excessive sexual thoughts, desires, or urges. This behavior is uncontrollable, a source of distress and adverse consequences with relationships, finances, and other aspects of lifestyle. While this addiction is still unclear, healthcare professionals may refer to it as compulsive sexual behavior, problematic sexual behavior, hypersexuality disorder, sexual compulsivity, or sexual impulsivity. Lastly, sexual addiction consumes one’s life completely. 

They cannot control their impulses and may have sex with people they didn’t intend to for example. The urge is uncontrollable, fueled by a constant desire to feel satisfied. In addition, this sexual behavior can also lead to negative consequences. Speaking to a health care or mental health professional may lead to sex addiction treatment. 

Questions providers might ask when seeking help are:

  • Physical and mental health history, family medical history, current medications, supplements, or holistic remedies 
  • Inquiry if there is substance use, such as drugs or alcohol
  • Specific descriptives of the sexual thoughts, behaviors, urges, or symptoms and behaviors, as well as the level of intensity of the urges 

The objective of the assessment by the healthcare provider is to rule out certain mental health disorders or trauma. Bipolar disorder (manic episodes), hyperandrogenism, anxiety, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s may include hypersexuality as a symptom. Although there is no definitive diagnosis of sex addiction, experienced professionals realize the challenges of life-altering symptoms. 

Researchers reveal the results of a study about sexual addiction:

  • A mood disorder such as depression or bipolar was present in 72% of the participants experiencing the symptoms of sex addiction
  • Anxiety disorder was present in 38% of the study participants
  • A substance use disorder was present in 40% of the study participants

Signs of Sex Addiction

Impulse control, personality, and substance use disorders have a high rate of hypersexuality as a symptom. Sex addiction typically has no emotional connection. However, it fulfills the need to relieve psychological stress or a mental condition. 

Signs and symptoms of hypersexuality can include any of the following:

  • Obsession with sex, and sexual behaviors
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Frequent use of pornography, videos, adult magazines, and internet sites depicting sexual situations and masturbation while participating in these factors
  • Escalation in reckless sexual activity, use of sexual aggression, or dangerous sexual activities such as autoerotic asphyxiation
  • Having health, financial or legal problems due to risky or harmful sexual behavior
  • Engagement in sexual behaviors typically goes against one’s values, beliefs, or societal beliefs
  • Engaging in paraphilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadomasochism, and pedophilia
  • An inability to stop the sexual behaviors and thoughts despite any adverse consequences to harm others
  • A failure to set limits or boundaries with sexual urges
  • Ignoring personal responsibilities, obligations, personal relationships, and social activities to spend excessive time on sexual fantasies

How Sex Addiction Develops

Hypersexuality affects about 3% to 10% of the general U.S. population. It’s more common in men than women. For every 2 to 5 males with hypersexuality, 1 woman is affected. Sexual addiction begins, on average, at 18 years of age. A family history of addictive behavior is another indicator. A large number of individuals with sex addiction have a history of childhood trauma or abuse.

Many individuals with sex addiction (88%) have a history of other mental health conditions, too, including:

  • Mood disorders, bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Having a history of suicidal ideations or attempts
  • Personality disorders
  • Other addictive disorders
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Researchers are still studying the causes of hypersexuality and have found some common factors in sex addiction treatment data. First, an imbalance in brain chemistry involving dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels is the first possibility found. 

Dementia, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder affect the frontal lobe, amygdala, or prefrontal cortex, parts of the brain that control sexual impulses or behaviors. Then altered brain functions could affect and create new nerve pathways of addictive behaviors. Finally, substance use disorders and adverse medication reactions could be possible avenues of hypersexual behavior. 

Sex Addiction, Self-Esteem, and Shame

Sex addiction treatment reveals that those with hypersexuality suffer greatly, and the behaviors result in a loss of self-esteem, feelings of shame, and guilt. In addition, many clients who are experiencing hypersexual behaviors are fearful and anxious of judgment and persecution. Hopelessness, loneliness, and depression are often a challenge to overcome daily. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find help because the fear of misunderstanding by healthcare providers is overwhelming. 

The risks and consequences of hypersexual behaviors carry on past the individual. Intimate partners are in danger of the transmission of diseases from high-risk sexual behaviors. In addition, promiscuous sexual behaviors could lead to legal trouble. Exposing oneself in public is typical hypersexual behavior. It is essential to reach out for sex addiction treatment before other negative situations occur. 

Detox and Sex Addiction Treatment

Sex addiction treatment typically consists of prescription medication, psychotherapy, and self-help group therapy sessions. However, a thorough examination and assessment with professional medical and mental health providers will also identify any mental disorders that need therapy. Evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy are extremely useful in changing behavior patterns. Learning new coping mechanisms for addressing triggers in behavior is life-changing.

A detox may be a necessity if a substance use disorder is co-occurring. Detoxification will rid the body of the substance and clear the mind to begin therapy. Sex addiction treatment is very much in line with other addictive disorder treatments. Some 12-step programs, self-help group therapy, individual therapy, and medication are all successful programs if used together. 

Find Sex Addiction Treatment in California

Those with hypersexuality or sex addiction may find it challenging to find understanding and compassion from healthcare providers. Harmony Place, in California, is familiar with the issues presented for those seeking help for sex addiction. Not only does Harmony Place offer treatment for behavioral disorders, and mental health conditions, we extend our services to address hypersexuality as well. 

Contact our center to discuss treatment options today to feel some relief from your addiction.